I’ve intentionally avoided commenting on the new media guide that Verizon rolled out to all its DFW FiOS customers this week. I decided to wait because I was so completely underwhelmed after spending the first 10 minutes with it. It’s been a few days now and I’m sad to say not much has changed.

Before the switch to fiber I had a DirecTiVo. In retrospect, that guide was crafted like a work of art. It was easy, intuitive, and configurable. The change to Verizon, on the other hand, was painful. The original guide was ugly as sin and it wasn’t very intelligent either. Don’t worry; we eventually reached an uneasy truce. It helped a little when I discovered that the guide was actually Microsoft’s first attempt at media guide software.

I heard rumors of the new guide last spring. “Excellent,” I thought, “I can live with this crappy guide for a few months.” It was due sometime in the summer. Then it was September 1, then October 1. Then it was end of 2007. The delays were purported to be the result of some bad rollouts in some of Verizon’s smaller markets in New England. The new guide wasn’t quite ready for primetime, but it was close. I didn’t mind the delays – who would want a buggy TV guide anyway?

So this new guide rolls out, and it’s buggy as hell. Visually it’s a lot more appealing than the old one, but that counts for jack when you can’t work/trust the guide. The feature list has hardly improved and, incredibly, several of the annoyances from the old guide actually carried forward!

Currently I can’t see any of the HD channels above 803 on my Favorites list. They’re checked off as favorites on the config screen but they don’t show. If I switch to the HD channels view they’re there, but they’re AWOL from the favorites.

I may not have noticed this right away were it not for the fact that the list doesn’t loop back around to the first channel at the end. You have to page up manually to get back to the beginning. When a recorded program ends you’re dumped out to the top of the recorded list instead of being prompted to delete or keep the program you just finished. At that point don’t even think about hitting the Favorites button on your remote – you’ll need to exit the list view for it to become functional again. And, as with the old guide, the progress bar randomly freezes for the duration of the current program. The list goes on.

Dear Verizon: come on guys, this shit was solved by the cable companies 15 years ago. These are basic usability issues. They should have been flushed out long before it ever saw the light of day. I understand you’re new to the cable business, but I guarantee you this wouldn’t have happened if you had spent 10 minutes asking teenagers what they thought about it.

I should point out that while I was typing this the receiver just unmuted itself.

Please, for the love of all that is holy in this world, tell me that you did not intentionally include a “feature” that turns the volume back up after X minutes. Please tell me this was a quirk, a hiccup. Please tell me you didn’t burn developer hours that could otherwise have been spent debugging.

I think I’m going to go lie down now.
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